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Lilo & Stitch director Chris Sanders speaks out about Frozen’s praise for sisterhood story

Disney’s animated hit Lilo & Stich celebrated its 20th anniversary, though director Chris Sanders has a bit of a bone to pick with critics.

The film followed a young orphan Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) who is raised by her older sister Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere) when their lives are turned upside down when she discovers an alien creature she dubs Stitch (voiced by Sanders).

The film performed quite well at the box office, but many years later, Frozen earned high praise for its message of sisterhood, which Sanders admitted in an interview with The New York Times was upsetting since his movie did that first.

Director: Disney’s animated hit Lilo & Stich celebrated its 20th anniversary, though director Chris Sanders (above) has a bit of a bone to pick with critics

Lilo and Stitch: The film followed a young orphan Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) who is raised by her older sister Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere) when their lives are turned upside down when she discovers an alien creature she dubs Stitch (voiced by Sanders)

Lilo and Stitch: The film followed a young orphan Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) who is raised by her older sister Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere) when their lives are turned upside down when she discovers an alien creature she dubs Stitch (voiced by Sanders)

Frozen praise: The film performed quite well at the box office, but many years later, Frozen earned high praise for its message of sisterhood, which Sanders admitted in an interview with The New York Times was upsetting since his movie did that first

Frozen praise: The film performed quite well at the box office, but many years later, Frozen earned high praise for its message of sisterhood, which Sanders admitted in an interview with The New York Times was upsetting since his movie did that first

The movie, which debuted on June 21, 2002, was a hit at the box office, earning $273.1 million worldwide from an $80 million budget.

The movie earned praise for the Lilo and Nani characters and their authenticity, along with shining a spotlight on kids from broken homes, instead of focusing on any sort of romantic angle like many animated films did.

‘To be clear, I think Frozen‘s great. But it was a little bit frustrating for me because people were like, “Finally, a nonromantic relationship with these two girls,” and I thought, “We did that! That has absolutely been done before,”‘ Sanders admitted.

Big hit: The movie, which debuted on June 21, 2002, was a hit at the box office, earning $273.1 million worldwide from an $80 million budget

Big hit: The movie, which debuted on June 21, 2002, was a hit at the box office, earning $273.1 million worldwide from an $80 million budget

Great: 'To be clear, I think Frozen‘s great. But it was a little bit frustrating for me because people were like, "Finally, a nonromantic relationship with these two girls," and I thought, "We did that! That has absolutely been done before,"' Sanders admitted

Great: ‘To be clear, I think Frozen‘s great. But it was a little bit frustrating for me because people were like, “Finally, a nonromantic relationship with these two girls,” and I thought, “We did that! That has absolutely been done before,”‘ Sanders admitted

Lilo & Stitch producer Clark Spender added, ‘When the film came out, that’s what a lot of critics talked about.

‘Those moments that were based in reality in a way that people could see themselves in, and it didn’t feel like they were cartoon characters,’ he added.

The movie spawned the straight-to-video sequel Stitch: The Movie in 2003, which ultimately served as the pilot episode for Lilo & Stitch: The Series.

Cartoon: 'Those moments that were based in reality in a way that people could see themselves in, and it didn’t feel like they were cartoon characters,' he added

Cartoon: ‘Those moments that were based in reality in a way that people could see themselves in, and it didn’t feel like they were cartoon characters,’ he added

Chase and Sanders returned to voice the title characters for the series, which ran for two seasons between 2003 and 2006.

Disney also released a 2005 direct-to-video sequel Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch and an anime series for the Japanese market in 2008 dubbed Stitch!

The studio also announced in 2018 they are developing a live-action remake for the Disney Plus streaming service.

Title characters: Chase and Sanders returned to voice the title characters for the series, which ran for two seasons between 2003 and 2006

Title characters: Chase and Sanders returned to voice the title characters for the series, which ran for two seasons between 2003 and 2006

Sanders was brought back to voice Stitch, with Jon M. Chu brought on to direct, though he ultimately backed out.

Filming was supposed to start in Hawaii in 2020, though Chu left the film in March 2021 and there have been no updates since then.

Sanders would go on to direct 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon, 2013’s The Croods and the 2020 live action film The Call of the Wild, starring Harrison Ford. 

Frozen: Frozen broke box office records for an animated film earning over $1 billion worldwide

Frozen: Frozen broke box office records for an animated film earning over $1 billion worldwide

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